Objectives: To investigate changes in cardiovascular risk factor parameters when stopping smoking and to identify any impact of nicotine nasal spray on these factors.
Design and subjects: In a placebo-controlled, double-blind 3-month prospective study, nicotine nasal spray (NNS) or a placebo was given to 157 subjects attending a smoking cessation programme. Blood samples from 46 subjects who remained abstinent for 3 months were analysed. Nasal spray use was given on an ad libitum basis.
Results: The haemoglobin (Hb) decreased from 149.0 to 143.2 g L(-1) (P<0.001). The haematocrit (Hct) decreased from 44.6 to 42.4% (P<0.001). The mean corpuscular volume (MCV) decreased from 93.4 to 92.3 fl (P<0.001). The mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) increased from 333.9 to 338.1 g L(-1) (P = 0.029). The white blood cell count (WBC) decreased from 8.4 to 6.6x10(9) L(-1) (P<0.001). The total cholesterol decreased from 5.92 to 5.65 mmol L(-1) (P = 0.015). The high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) increased from 1.29 to 1.44 mmol L(-1) (P = 0.48) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) decreased from 4.00 to 3.54 mmol L(-1) (P = 0.004). The HDL/LDL ratio increased from 0.36 to 0.46 (P = 0.011).
Conclusion: Stopping smoking resulted in positive effects on cardiovascular risk factors. Nicotine treatment for as long as 3 months did not have any significant effect on these 'stopping smoking changes'. In smoking cessation, nicotine substitution up to 3 months seems to be safe.